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SLY WILLIAMS
09-19-2008, 09:27 AM
Rangers expecting a lot from Zherdev

BY STEVE ZIPAY
September 18, 2008

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Ten minutes into his first Rangers scrimmage yesterday, Nikolai Zherdev was kneeling on the ice near the blue line, grasping his right shoulder after a solid hit from Dane Byers.

For the brass watching the 23-year-old Ukrainian sniper who is expected to be the team's No. 1 right wing, it was an anxious moment.

Zherdev, acquired in a trade with Columbus in July, went to the bench, missed one shift and later scored a nifty goal on passes from linemates Scott Gomez and Markus Naslund.

As it turned out, Zherdev, who scored 76 goals in three-plus seasons with the Blue Jackets, suffered a cut lip and swollen cheek.

"It's OK, just hockey," said Zherdev, a quiet youngster who struggles with some questions in English.

Learning the language is part of the not-so-seamless transition that Zherdev, the fourth overall pick in the 2003 entry draft who scored 26 goals last season in Columbus and 27 in 2005-06, is making. "One year [2006-07] I just scored 10 goals," Zherdev said. "Maybe this year there's more."

"It's a bigger adjustment coming over from Europe than people think," said Naslund, a former captain in Vancouver. "Not everyone's going to come over and score 76 like Teemu [Selanne] did his rookie year [with Winnipeg in 1992-93]. I've played him quite a bit in the West. He has exceptional skill, he's a game-breaker who can make those moves that a lot of guys can't."

Offensive talent aside, the 6-2 Zherdev has been subpar on defense. He was a whopping minus-19 in 2006-07. Last season, however, under the tutelage of coach Ken Hitchcock, Zherdev improved to a minus-9.

"We looked at him on video a lot and saw him playing better than a year ago and that's some natural maturation," said Rangers coach Tom Renney, who hopes to see more consistency, acknowledging that "we place a premium on play without the puck."

Right now, everything is "nice" for Zherdev, who spends the offseason in Moscow. He said he has visited the Russian community in Brighton Beach, but prefers Manhattan and its variety of restaurants.

In the final year of a contract that pays him $2.5 million, Zherdev is free to play in the Kontinental Hockey League in his homeland next season. "Whatever his options are after this year," Renney said, " we'd like to be No. 1 on that list."

http://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey/rangers/ny-sprang185847821sep18,0,1730488.story

B-West.Joba
09-21-2008, 12:17 AM
trade zherdev, roszvival, and the needed draft picks for gaborik after he doesnt get a deal with minnesota.

jetsfan89
09-21-2008, 10:42 AM
trade zherdev, roszvival, and the needed draft picks for gaborik after he doesnt get a deal with minnesota.

no

SLY WILLIAMS
09-21-2008, 11:18 AM
I'd like Gaborik a lot but I think we have to take our time and see how things play out. We have to worry about our own team and this season first. :)

B-West.Joba
09-21-2008, 12:05 PM
no

why not, you get a player that would average more than a point a game, he is one of the fastest in the league and has a great wrister/quick release, you'd have to think you that would be great with gomez. zherdev seems like he has no work ethic and doesnt try hard enough and plays bad d, also im not convinced he wont go to russia next year, roszival is a very overated, scared to shoot or hit defensemen, sanguinetti will be ready soon and soon after him will be del zotto, who looked very good last night (even though its just one preseason game)

SLY WILLIAMS
09-21-2008, 03:28 PM
There is no way we can assume trading 2 players that we need right now will lead for sure to us getting Gaborik in the future. If you could tell me that would happen with 100% certainty that it would then I would be with you. :)

CurseThis
09-23-2008, 12:01 AM
trade zherdev, roszvival, and the needed draft picks for gaborik after he doesnt get a deal with minnesota.

Why would you shoot yourself in the foot like that? Who's going to be your sixth d-man? Pock? You're willing to completely strip down our defense to get an older version of Zherdev?

Our problem is that we need another legitimate 2nd line winger. This doesn't solve that problem. You're just making more problems.

redwhiteandblue
09-23-2008, 11:52 AM
Why would you shoot yourself in the foot like that? Who's going to be your sixth d-man? Pock? You're willing to completely strip down our defense to get an older version of Zherdev?

Our problem is that we need another legitimate 2nd line winger. This doesn't solve that problem. You're just making more problems.

To be fair, Gaborik is most definetly NOT "an older version of Zherdev". He's on a completely different level of hockey player. If he was on that line with Gomez and Nassy... wow. I mean that kid can flat out play no questions asked, not defensivly, but he's just an overall much better player. His only problem is he has minor injury concerns.

CurseThis
09-23-2008, 06:46 PM
To be fair, Gaborik is most definetly NOT "an older version of Zherdev". He's on a completely different level of hockey player. If he was on that line with Gomez and Nassy... wow. I mean that kid can flat out play no questions asked, not defensivly, but he's just an overall much better player. His only problem is he has minor injury concerns.

Zherdev has the upside to be able to produce like Gaborik, it's just a matter of realizing that potential. He's not even 24 years old yet... give him some time. I mean, he was playing on a team devoid of talent and still put up very respectable numbers last season. Imagine how hard it is for a kid from Russia to come to the US and play hockey in Columbus, Ohio... where the only other player worthy of praise is Rick Nash, who I don't believe actually played on the same line as Zherdev all of the time... though I might be completely wrong about that.

Plus... Zherdev made huge strides last season in his defensive game. If you caught last night's game against Ottawa, Zherdev back checked the entire game and even forced Ottawa to cough up the puck in the process.

Of course, I'm not expecting him to bust out and have a 40+ goal season this year... but I don't doubt he'll break the 30 goal mark... which is what Gaborik has posted for the bulk of his career, with the exceptions being last season (42 goals) and '05/'06 (38 goals). Yes, he has been injured and that obviously puts a damper on his goal totals... but production is production.

I look at Gaborik and see a guy who's not willing to play defense most of the time, who's shown he's pretty much incapable of staying healthy for an entire year, and has openly been feuding with his coach. Why would I want that type of egocentric player on the Rangers?

Zherdev finally matured last off-season. He stayed with his agent in North America in order to adjust to the culture and made it a point to start learning English seriously. Former teammates have openly stated that last season Zherdev finally started to open up and involve himself with the rest of the team so that he could get closer to them. He wanted to hang out and spend time with the same guys he ignored for the previous three seasons. He even worked hard with Ken Hitchcock all of last season to improve his defensive game. That all shows me that Zherdev finally woke up and has become fully dedicated to succeeding in the NHL. Last year was just the tip of the iceberg for him. Under Renney he's undoubtedly going to become an even more well-rounded player, who can score and also come back to help out on defense. Kid's another three or four years away from entering his prime, so he has a lot more potential for growth.

All in all, in a year or two I think Zherdev will be very close to Gaborik's level when you factor in his offensive skill, increased defensive awareness and a humbled mentality. We're going to make him a more well-rounded player than Gaborik is.

In all honesty... Zherdev has shown glimpses of sheer raw ability and talent that simply makes your jaw drop at times. It's somewhat similar to how Jagr used to be able to seemingly score at will when he was in the zone, except Zherdev is more flashy. I'm not expecting that though. I'll be more than happy if he pots 30-35 goals and plays an honest two way game of hockey for the next 5+ years... assuming we can sign him to an extension.